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Ladies and gentlemen,
Fifty years ago the world gazed spellbound toward Africa. In 1960, the Year of Africa, no less than 17 countries gained independence. 2010 has in its own way also become a Year of Africa.
South Africa seized the FIFA World Cup as an opportunity for the continent as a whole. This global event single-handedly swept away decades’ worth of stereotypes.
Germany had a very similar experience four years earlier.
Everyone in this room knows that Africa is much more than poverty, crisis and disaster. Beyond the walls of this room, however, the fact that many economies in Africa are growing just as fast as in Asia is often still overlooked, as is the fact that an increasing number of international companies are discovering Africa’s potential as an investment location, that a new middle class is gradually emerging there. There is good reason why countries such as China are now more present than ever in Africa.
Despite all the challenges, what I see above all when I look at Africa today are major opportunities and untapped potential – economic and political.
African political leaders are taking the continent’s fate ever more into their own hands. Regional cooperation is on the rise. The clout of African regional organizations is growing. The principle of ownership is impacting behaviour.
We support these positive developments. We want Africa to rise and prosper.
We cannot solve the world’s most pressing problems without our neighbouring continent Africa.
We need a common response to climate change and its consequences, to development and food security issues, and to the challenges posed by rapidly growing or aging populations.
The time has come for a new turn towards partnership in our Africa policy. Away from a donor-recipient outlook. Towards a global responsibility partnership on equal footing.
The German Government will soon present a comprehensive concept for Africa, which takes into account Africa’s changed self-perception as well as our own interests.
We see many young faces in the crowd gathered here today. These are the faces of the graduates of the Federal Foreign Office’s first Training for International Diplomats course for French-speaking diplomats from Africa. We bid all of you a heartfelt welcome!
It is up to your generation to create the new image of Africa and to shape future ties between Germany and Africa. Work with us for peace and development, live out our shared values. We can make freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights into a reality – in Africa, in Europe, and around the world.
Protecting human rights is an inextricable part of the connection between Europe and Africa. Human rights are the indispensable basis on which Europe and Africa can jointly help shape globalization.
Political rights are equal in importance to social and economic rights. For many years Germany has been calling for the United Nations to recognize the right to water as a human right. It is a great success that the General Assembly joined us in this position in July, and the Human Rights Council last week.
Germany has constantly worked to gain a greater say at the United Nations for the countries of the southern hemisphere.
The world is changing – the geopolitical balance is shifting eastward and southward. Africa is a part of these changes.
This holds especially true of peace and security. A Security Council without a strong African presence no longer reflects the current political reality.
We want to reform the Security Council to ensure that Africa is represented among the permanent members.
Peace and security in Africa will remain a foreign policy priority for Germany. There can be no development without peace and security, as evidenced by the conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, in the Sudan, in Somalia, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
That’s why Germany promotes the multilateral approaches of the United Nations, the European Union and the G8, which aim for a viable African security architecture.
African security structures must grow stronger so that African solutions to African problems can be found. This is what the African Union expects of itself, an expectation which we strongly support.
The Economic Community of West African States has likewise raised its political profile beyond its original economic orientation. Progress in peace and security is all the more precious at a time when resources are scarce in the countries of West Africa. The trend in the region in recent years has been positive. The tireless work of ECOWAS has borne fruit.
I am extraordinarily pleased that Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas has received this year’s German Africa Award.
Dr Chambas, your farsightedness, your courage, your political instincts and your tireless work on behalf of peace and freedom, development and reconciliation have achieved great things in West Africa.
Long before you joined ECOWAS, your reputation as a prudent mediator and conciliator preceded you.
Peaceful settlements in Liberia and Sierra Leone, in Côte d’Ivoire, in Guinea-Bissau and in Togo all bear your mark.
Under your leadership ECOWAS has also worked on solutions to the recent conflicts in Guinea and Niger. We shall miss you very much after your departure from ECOWAS. But I am confident that in other areas you will continue to act with every bit as much determination for the realization of your vision of democracy and the rule of law in West Africa.
It is above all thanks to you that democracy and the rule of law, good governance and human rights are now shared values of all ECOWAS member states.
Security and economic development can succeed only through regional cooperation. This principle has proved its worth in Europe and it is proving its worth in Africa too.
I thank you for your tireless work and unwavering commitment.